(Photo by © Summit Entertainment)
The creators of John Wick never expected to have a franchise. The first film was designed to be the directorial debut of stunt and second unit directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch. But audiences loved Keanu Reeves’ smooth assassin character and the world he inhabits. There’s going to be a streaming series set in the John Wick world too, and we’ve been tracking its developing since 2017.
The new series is called The Continental, named after the hotel for assassins featured in the films. Rules at the Continental stipulate that no “work” can be done on Continental grounds (no killing!). John Wick (Reeves) broke that rule in Chapter 2 by killing the man who forced him back into the life, while Chapter 3 saw John on the run and New York Continental manager Winston Scott (Ian McShane) facing repercussions for letting him go.
Plans for The Continental have evolved since Starz first announced the series in 2018. A new announcement today gave us a lot of new information, including when we can finally see it. Here’s everything we know about The Continental so far.
[Updated August 15, 2021]
(Photo by Lionsgate)
Starz first announced The Continental at the January 2018 Television Critics Association press tour. There have been updates each year, but perhaps the biggest one comes now that the series has moved to Peacock from Starz. Lionsgate, the distributor of the John Wick films, bought Starz in 2016 so that made sense then.
But lots of new streaming options have cropped up since 2017, so now The Continental will stream on NBC Universal’s Peacock. (Note: Rotten Tomatoes is also a division of NBCUniversal.) Peacock often streams the John Wick films so look for your chance to catch up in each month’s new title offerings.
Last fall, Starz and Lionsgate announced Mel Gibson had joined the cast of The Continental. Today’s announcement says he’ll play a new character named Cormac. The full cast list includes Colin Woodell, Ayomide Adegun, Pulp Fiction/The Mask villain Peter Greene, Ben Robson, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Jessica Allain, Mishel Prada, and Nhung Kate.
Supergirl’s Lena Luthor actor Katie McGrath, Ray McKinnon, Mark Musashi, and Marina Mazepa were announced in February. Lionsgate confirmed to Rotten Tomatoes they will still appear but not as series regulars. McGrath plays an adjudicator, like Asia Kate Dillon in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
(Photo by David Lee/Lionsgate)
Woodell plays the young Winston, previously announced as the lead of the show. Peacock confirms that Adegun plays Charon, the character played by Lance Reddick in the films. The Continental takes place in 1975, so Winston and Charon would be the ages of Adegun and Woodell, not Reddick and Ian McShane.
Early plans for The Continental would have introduced a new assassin in the world of the hotel. Stahelski originally told Rotten Tomatoes, “There’s a whole new cast coming aboard for that and that hasn’t been seen before.” That remains true, but two of them are now young incarnations of Winston and Charon . In an interview with Deadline, Lionsgate Television Chairman Kevin Beggs spoke about the studio’s plans, updating the John Wick TV series.
“What we’re exploring in The Continental is the young Winston and how it came to be that he and his team of confederates found their way into this hotel,” Beggs told Deadline. “[The Continental is] about a crumbling New York in the 1970s with a garbage strike that has piled up bags of garbage to the third floor of most brownstones, the mafia muscling in on that business which is why in The Sopranos he’s in the sanitation business. And other things that are really real as an interesting backdrop to explore the origins of The Continental.”
Greene dons the fedora of Uncle Charlie (based on the tight-lipped body disposal expert); Robson is Frankie; Point-Du Jour is Miles; Jessica is Lou; Prada is KD; and Kate is Yen.
(Photo by ©Summit Entertainment)
Back in 2018, Starz certainly anticipated having The Continental on the air within five years. The plan was always to run the series concurrent with the films, as they would not overlap or contradict each other. With this Peacock deal, the date is finally set. The Continental premieres in 2023.
Early plans were for an eight-episode season with hour-long episodes. Beggs changed that to three mini–event movies last year.
“How we’ve approached this first season is as three essentially 90-minute events which you could construe as a limited series or a limited event series,” Beggs said.
Albert Hughes is signed to direct nights 1 and 3. Charlotte Brandstrom will direct the middle. Stahelski had wanted to direct the pilot, but perhaps the extended development made that impossible. He’s still directing the movies, with John Wick: Chapter 4 due in 2023 and a Chapter 5 still in development.
As Reeves was previously listed as an executive producer of The Continental, in the beginning, Starz President of Programming Carmi Zlotnick teased possible appearances by John Wick himself. The period piece element of the new take rules that out.
“Because we’re way back in time, way back pre-John Wick and even pre-young John Wick, that character is not finding his way into the universe,” Beggs said. “We are in the John Wick universe, but it’s way back in time. Think about the Game of Thrones prequels before you know any of the players, but you do know the world.”
John Wick movie director Chad Stahelski is still an executive producer, though Reeves is no longer listed. Greg Coolidge and Kirk Ward are writing and show running The Continental in place of Chris Collins. Additional EPs include Hughes, Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee, co-director of the first film David Leitch, film writer Derek Kolstad, Shawn Simmons, Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese and Marshall Persinger. As of last year, Reeves was still somewhat involved, though focused on the films.
“Keanu and Chad have read every draft and been enthusiastic supporters of expanding this universe in a meaningful way,” Beggs said. “At this point he’s pretty busy making his movies which are very important to us.”
John Wick will generate at least five films. Early on, Stahelski was confident he and Leitch had ideas for multiple seasons on Starz, too.
“I think we haven’t even touched on The Continental,” Stahelski said. “That would be my comment on that. I think we have at least three seasons of TV.”
Hopefully, that still holds true for a “young Winston” series. Lionsgate and Peacock announced a multi-year deal for The Continental though still plan to stream all three episodes in 2023. But it seems they’re leaving the door open for more installments.
(Photo by David Lee/©Summit Entertainment)
While the creators were focused on making movies for a while, after the success of John Wick: Chapter 2, Lionsgate and Starz presented the possibility to expand the franchise into the television realm as well.
“The studio approached us after the second movie did fairly well that they said they were interested in pursuing something like that, which we were happy to oblige,” Stahelski confirmed.
The world of The Continental seems so deep, you’d think they had a rich history mapped out before going into the films. It actually didn’t even start to ramp up until the sequel.
“When we finished the first one, we thought we’d never work again,” Stahelski said. “We were looking for day jobs. Then when we were asked to do the second one, that’s when we put the thinking caps on. We did what we wanted to and what we had in mind for the first movie. It wasn’t until developing the second film that all the thought really went into it.”
(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
He’s traveled through time in search of knowledge, saved Sandra Bullock from getting blown up on a bus, freed humanity from being enslaved by computer overlords, and delivered some of the most righteous vengeance ever exacted on behalf of a murdered puppy — and all that really only scratches the surface of all the stuff Keanu Reeves has been up to on the big screen. Since making his mark as a quirky young lead in the ’80s, Reeves has followed his cinematic muse all over the genre map, from hit comedies like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to blockbuster action thrillers like Speed, John Wick, and Point Break, as well as dramatic showcases like Dangerous Liaisons and My Own Private Idaho. Also, he knows kung fu. Whoa.
On the horizon, we got The Matrix Resurrections and another John Wick. Now, we’re ranking all Keanu Reeves movies by Tomatometer.
(Photo by CD Projekt Red)
Every year in late spring, gamers and press from around the globe converge on the Los Angeles Convention Center to get a sneak peek of the latest and greatest video games being revealed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
For E3 2019 this week, heavy hitters Microsoft, Nintendo, and Ubisoft broke out the big guns for their latest projects, but a number of movie- and TV-based games have emerged as some of the week’s most promising prospects. Game developers no doubt hope to score the same sort of critical acclaim as last year’s Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Here are 10 of those pop culture–centric projects — and two honorable mentions — that already have our thumbs twitching in anticipation!
Publisher: En Masse Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: July 4
Following their ravenous consumption of new Stranger Things episodes this summer, fans can dive deeper into the sci-fi horror series’ third season in a new game releasing day and date with the show. Featuring a charmingly retro visual style, complete with a pixel-perfect Sheriff Hopper, as well as solo and co-op play, Stranger Things 3: The Video Game invites fans to solve puzzles, battle supernatural baddies, and uncover Hawkins’ — and the Upside Down’s — darkest secrets.
Developer: Koei Tecmo Games, Team NINJA
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: July 19
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order easily earns its title, as it allows players to assemble teams of iconic characters from all corners of the Marvel Universe. Playing solo — or as part of a four-player super-team — fans can choose from nearly 40 characters, from the Avengers and Fantastic Four to the X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy. Dynamic action-RPG gameplay, a gorgeous visual presentation, and an original Thanos-thwarting tale round out this fan-pleasing package.
Developer: Bloober Team
Publisher: Lionsgate Games
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Release Date: August 30
The future of the Blair Witch franchise might be in limbo, but the cult-favorite film series’ faithful followers can return to the Black Hills Forest this summer. A story-driven, psychological horror entry from the team behind the nerve-fraying Layers of Fear games, Blair Witch weaves a fresh, frightening tale, complete with shaky camcorder footage, atmospheric environments, and the sort of imagery that will take up permanent residence in your nightmares.
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: November 15
Gaming’s latest take on the galaxy far, far away puts players in the role of Cal Kestis, a Padawan on the run from the Empire’s Jedi-hunting Inquisitors. Set shortly after the events of Episode III, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is a single-player, story-driven action-adventure featuring familiar faces from both the light and dark sides, dynamic lightsaber combat, Stormtrooper-crushing Force powers, and an adorable companion droid that could top BB-8 on the cuteness scale.
Publisher: Outright Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: November 15
Landing ahead of the holiday season’s highly-anticipated Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle sequel comes a new game based on the family-friendly franchise. Embracing the action, humor, and exotic environments of the films, the game features four-player co-op (both online and local) and a delightfully stylized take on the films’ colorful cast of characters.
Platforms: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR
Release Date: Fall 2019
Given virtual reality’s immersion-ratcheting nature, it’s not surprising so many game developers have leveraged the tech to scare the pants off players. The Walking Dead Onslaught aims to up the ante in this regard, putting brave fans face-to-rotting-face with the franchise’s brain-craving foes. Sporting visceral combat — supported by a “progressive dismemberment system” — and a new story, the game also puts players in the boots of their favorite survivors from the AMC series.
Publisher: En Masse Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: 2019
The Dark Crystal renaissance continues with a new game based on the cult-favorite film’s 10-episode prequel series set to hit Netflix this summer, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Dubbed Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics, the title combines strategy-focused combat with deep role-playing game elements, all brought to life by a charming visual presentation that should please fans of the original Jim Henson– and Frank Oz–directed film.
Developer: CD Projekt Red
Publisher: CD Projekt
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: April 16, 2020
Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t find its genesis in film and TV, but the title scores whoa! points for hiring thespian Keanu Reeves to anchor the game. Reeves plays rocker Johnny Silverhand, a high-profile NPC who personifies the malware infecting the biochip in the player’s character. The Matrix trilogy star, just off Certified Fresh hit John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, is soon to appear in 2020 film Bill & Ted Face the Music. Plus, CD Projekt Red is the company behind the hugely popular Witcher video game series, which is being turned into a Netflix show starring Henry Cavill (Justice League).
Developer: Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: May 15, 2020
Avengers Endgame has come and gone, but Marvel fans will get to reassemble Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in this ambitious action-adventure from the folks behind the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise. Whether saving the day solo or teaming up online with a co-op crew of four, players will unleash the skills and powers of Captain America, Black Widow, Iron Man, and the Hulk in a brand new, cinematic story that further expands on Marvel’s rich universe.
Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Release Date: 2020
The enormously popular and prolific LEGO video game series kicked off with 2005’s LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game. That legacy now comes full-circle with the sprawling Skywalker Saga, a collection of nine brick-based games from a galaxy far, far away. On top of revisiting previously released entries based on Episodes 1-7, the Death Star–sized compilation — which will allow fans to begin the story at any point — brings The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker to block-y life for the first time.
Developer: Bithell Games
Publisher: Lionsgate Games, Good Shepherd Entertainment
Platforms: PC, (conoles TBA)
Release Date: TBA
If you were expecting a game based on the blockbuster John Wick franchise to be a brainless, button-mashing shooter, you’d be wrong. Dead wrong. A brilliant blend of gun-fu action and strategy, John Wick Hex will have players plan every trigger-pull behind each precision shot, just as the Baba Yaga would. Toss in a stylized visual presentation and universe-expanding story and this smart shooter is right on target. Players are the titular assassin, played by Keanu Reeves in the film franchise (no word on his participation here).
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: TBA
Another title not based on an existing film or TV property, this dark fantasy entry deserves a mention for George R.R. Martin’s involvement. A brand-new universe created by Game of Thrones mastermind Martin and From Software’s Hidetaka Miyazaki (Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice) Elden Ring has the potential to be a pretty big deal. At the very least, it gives Martin’ fans — patiently waiting for his next book and/or suffering withdrawals from HBO’s GoT conclusion — something new to obsess over.
The story of New York’s stylish and deadly Baba Yaga began in Sydney, Australia where Keanu Reeves and then stunt-double Chad Stahelski met while shooting The Matrix in the 1990s. There, the two men formed a strong bond and drew a great deal of influence from Matrix directors the Wachowski siblings. More than a decade later, they would be working together again on the first John Wick film, with Reeves in the lead role and Stahelski as co-director with David Leitch (Stahelski would go on to direct Chapter 2 and Chapter 3, solo). What drew them to the story of the assassin who loses everything? How did they go about creating the hyper-reality of the John Wick world and the rules-ridden universe of the Continental? And how did they choose their heartbreakingly cute, furry little co-star? In this exclusive, in-depth interview, Reeves and Stahelski talk about first working together, developing and shooting John Wick, and how they created one of the most exciting original franchises of the last decade.
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum opens in theaters on May 17.
(Photo by Matt Doyle/Contour by Getty Images)
You’ll recognize Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick as the powerhouse writing duo behind Certified Fresh apocalyptic comedy Zombieland, sci-fi fantasy flick Life, and, of course, Marvel’s Deadpool, Deadpool 2, and Once Upon a Deadpool.
Their latest project is YouTube Premium action series Wayne, which stars Mark McKenna (Sing Street) and Ciara Bravo (To the Bone) as a teen vigilante couple out to battle injustice and rescue a classic car. Executive producers Reese and Wernick describe the show as “John Wick–meets–John Hughes” — heart-stopping, bad-ass action with a sweet, romantic core.
Rotten Tomatoes caught up with the writers-turned-producers to find out their latest TV and movie obsessions, what makes Wayne binge-worthy, and more.
(Photo by Greenwich Entertainment)
Rhett Reese: Well, movie-wise for me recently is Free Solo. I can’t get over Free Solo. It’s all I can think about or talk about, as anyone that knows me knows.
Paul Wernick: I’m embarrassed to say I don’t have much appointment viewing because I like to shut my brain off at night because we’re working so hard in the daytime. It’s hard for me to commit to any one show. Inside The NBA, embarrassingly enough, is my favorite show on television.
(Photo by Amazon Prime)
Reese: Right now my wife and I are watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which is like stepping into an incredible time machine. It’s very well-acted and beautifully shot. It’s just as rich and luscious a show as you could ever imagine watching. And then the other thing my wife’s got me into is The Great British Bake-Off, or Baking Show, or whatever. That’s our sort of guilty pleasure, where we watch as people try to make tarts without soggy bottoms. And that’s fun. And then our next thing we’ll be embarking on is Better Call Saul because Breaking Bad was our favorite show ever, and we’ve fallen behind on Better Call Saul for whatever reason.
(Photo by Tyler Golden/Netflix)
Reese: We really went crazy for American Vandal on Netflix, and that’s not on the DVR cause it’s Netflix, but American Vandal my wife and I are totally obsessed with. … I don’t think there’s ever been a funnier, more grounded, real portrayal of high school on television. It’s just that funny, and that good.
Wernick: I would say mine is Shark Tank. I’ve probably got about 50 Shark Tanks on my DVR that my children and I like to watch.
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)
Reese: For me it will be Game of Thrones because I was Game of Thrones obsessed since probably — let me think back — probably about 2007 or so. I read all the books, totally obsessed by them. And then was thrilled when they announced that they were gonna do a show, and I’ve done a deep dive on the show as well.
Wernick: You were Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones was Game of Thrones.
Reese: I was in the bookstore, and I was looking for a fantasy series, and I just happened to pick up that first book. And on page 100 when Jaime Lannister threw Bran out the window I was like, “All right, this is gonna be my series of books for the next, y’know, four or five years.” So I go very far back, and I’m really excited to see how they wrap it up.
Wernick: Wayne. Yeah, Wayne. I can’t wait until January 16. I can’t wait for Wayne.
Sophie-Marie Prime for Rotten Tomatoes: How did you become involved with Wayne, and what made you want to be a part of it?
Reese: Sean [Simmons] created this show. He grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts, which is sort of an “other side of the tracks” kind of place. He was inspired to write a spec pilot based on a little bit of his background and watching kids in Brockton who were real tough who would get beat up by groups of bigger kids, but not back down.
Wernick: You know, scripts end up on our desks quite often. This one really jumped off the page. Sean had such a distinctive voice, and that’s really what you look for. There’s so much out there that kind of feels the same, and it feels predictable, and this one you just — it was a page turner. It was kind of a perfect mix of tones for us, and fit into “brand,” if we were to have one, Rhett and I. We jumped at the chance to be involved.
(Photo by YouTube Premium)
RT: How would you describe the tone of the show, in comparison to your other projects, like Deadpool and Zombieland?
Wernick: I think it’s very similar. It’s in and out of different tones, and it’s a delicate dance. But real life, it bounces in and out of different tones; sometimes you’re laughing, and sometimes you’re crying, and sometimes you’re getting your ass kicked, and sometimes you’re kicking ass. That’s real life.
Heart is a big thing with all our projects. I think it’s something that we try and mine because if you can get people to feel — if you can ideally get people to cry in the same episode that they’re laughing — it’s a pretty great accomplishment. And we think Sean, as brilliant as he is, has kind of captured that in a way that’s really difficult to capture.
(Photo by YouTube/Courtesy)
RT: How would you describe Wayne (Mark McKenna) as a character? What makes him tick?
Wernick: I think it’s justice and injustice, quite honestly. He just hates when people — good people — are wronged, and he tries to make right in the world. It’s this 16-year-old boy; he’s got anger impulse and issues, but he’s got a maturity to him in that sense. We always describe him as a little bit of a vigilante. He does have some Bruce Wayne in him, strangely, or Charles Bronson. He’s the badass, but he’s the badass for making right of the world’s wrongs.
Reese: We also wanted to hit the fact that not every tough guy is so tough when they’re faced with women, because he doesn’t know much about girls. And so, as tough as he is when he’s in a fist fight, he’s in over his head when it comes to meeting Del, this girl he’s got a crush on. He’s got to navigate that in his own inexperience, and that’s really fun.
We describe the show as “John Wick–meets–John Hughes,” and that’s for a reason. It’s an ass-kicking show, but it’s also a romance — it’s about a teen who’s really delving into first love. And we think that definitely gives the show sweetness to go along with its hard edge.
Wernick: Yeah, and Mark McKenna, he’s such a brilliant actor. … He’s a badass, but there’s a real kind of sweet vulnerability to him. And I think both in the character, and in the way Mark captures that onscreen, it’s awesome to watch.
RT: What’s Wayne’s relationship with Del (Ciara Bravo) like, and how does it evolve?
Reese: I don’t wanna spoil it, but it’s funny — in some ways they’re sort of meant for each other. They’re both from dysfunctional families, other side of the tracks, struggling to get by, don’t always get the support at home that maybe children with their good hearts should be afforded. But I think they’re also different. Wayne’s definitely more strong, silent. Del’s more talkative. They have strange idiosyncrasies that might not work together, and yet somehow do. So they’re a bit of a mismatched pair. I think watching that relationship develop, and go from being more than just the obsession or lust of first-time teenage love to something much deeper, is what this show’s about, really, over the course of the 10 episodes.
(Photo by YouTube/Courtesy)
RT: What do you think makes Del tick? What makes her stick with Wayne despite everything they go through?
Reese: Well, you’ll see a lot of Del’s personality has been shaped by her mother — and you’ll learn more about Del’s mother moving forward, and her mother’s relationship with her father. She’s a complex character, more so than Wayne. Wayne is a little simple like, I think, most men. He’s got his wants and his desires. Things trigger him, and he acts.
Del is more complex than Wayne. You’ll see all kinds of different shades in her, and you’ll see a vulnerability over time that speaks to why she likes Wayne, and why she likes his directness, and why she likes his direct, non-deceptive way of dealing with the world. … You’ll just see her evolve. Episode 5, in particular, is just a stunner. It’s what we think is our best episode, and it’s focused on Del.
Wernick: Episode 5 is actually my favorite episode of the series so far. It’s exclusively about Del, and how she came to be who she is. The show’s called “Wayne,” but it really could be called “Wayne and Del,” because that really is what the show’s about. We wanted to make a strong female character, and she’s super super-strong — almost to a fault at times. She’s a badass.
Reese: But she’s also not at all one-dimensional either, because I think sometimes now the strong female is as much of a cliché as anything else. Every person’s got strengths and weaknesses throughout their character, male or female, and she’s strong in some ways, and she’s actually really vulnerable and weak, even, in other ways.
(Photo by YouTube/Courtesy)
RT: What do each of you relate to in Wayne or Del as characters?
Reese: I came from a upper- to upper-middle-class neighborhood in Arizona where it was very suburban. … Very cookie cutter, and sweet, and almost Mr. Rogers–like. So I can’t relate to a lot of what Wayne and Del are going through. And yet, where I click into it the most is just the rage over injustice in the world. … And then secondarily, I was sort of a hopeless romantic in grade school and high school. Every year I was in love with a new girl, and was too afraid to do anything about it or tell her. Seeing Wayne and Del’s romantic relationship, I just find it very relatable — that lack of sure footing that you have when you’ve never really expressed romantic feelings to anybody before. And you don’t really know what you’re doing, and you don’t know how to kiss, and you don’t know the right things to say. I relate to that like crazy.
Wernick: And I relate to just the pure rage. I’m not as romantic and sweet as Rhett.
Wayne premieres Wednesday, Jan. 16 on YouTube Premium.
(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
Her rise to stardom has been slow and steady, but Olivia Munn has come a long way since making her debut on G4’s popular tech and gaming series Attack of the Show! back in 2006. After leaving AOTS in 2010, Munn landed a coveted gig as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show even as she sought opportunities to expand her big screen credentials. She appeared briefly in films like Iron Man 2 and Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, co-starred in short-lived NBC sitcom Perfect Couples, and eventually earned a spot in the cast of HBO’s The Newsroom. Just last year, X-Men fans saw her tackle the role of Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalpse, and she’s already signed to return as the character in the next film, X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
This week, Munn lends her voice to the next entry in the budding LEGO movie franchise, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, as Misako, the ex-wife of the film’s villain Lord Garmadon. She took some time to speak with RT about her Five Favorite Films, pulling nuggets of wisdom from movies like Groundhog Day and Forrest Gump. Read on for the full list!
The Royal Tenenbaums. The style of the movie is so brilliant, and it just had so much character and intrigue, and the characters are all so specific, and funny, and heartbreaking, and as heightened as the world is, everybody’s so grounded. There’s just so much going on in that movie, and it just keeps moving. When you sit through it, you’re never bored through any of it, and I just think that [Wes Anderson] is one of the best directors of all time. I love pretty much everything with Bill Murray in it, so yes, that would be the first one.
The second one would actually be, going off of Bill Murray, it would be Groundhog Day. I watch that movie as if it’s Groundhog Day. I watch it all the time. It is so good. It is one of the best movies ever, and it’s just so clever. Every time I watch it, I just find little things that are different, or I think about something different. I mean, it was a movie that, as seen on paper, may be hard to do, but he is just such a brilliant actor and he’s so lovable without being annoying, and Andie MacDowell was so great in it.
Watching it multiple times and kind of noticing different things, have any of your opinions about something in Groundhog Day changed noticeably over the years? Like, opinions on maybe a character or an event?
Yes, actually, I watched it the other day, and even though I’m sure this is something that everybody else has thought of, it just hit me in a way that… I guess, especially as you get older and you understand life a little bit better, and you’ve had more experiences and stuff, I was like, the whole movie… You know, in the beginning he wants to learn piano, he’s got his money, and he wants to sleep with this girl and that girl, and he’s about the notoriety, and he’s living that life and getting to be amazing every day and never having to worry about tomorrow. You know, when you don’t have to worry about tomorrow, you get to be who you want to be, sleep with who you want to sleep with, spend what you want to spend, and not worry about it.
After he does that time and time again, and day after day, he starts to realize what the real purpose of life is, which is not consuming everything for yourself but to help others. When he starts to give his money away, or wants to go and save this guy, or be there to save that kid. His time is filled with service to others.
Somebody said to me once our lives are like a blank book, and this book is filled with blank pages, and every day is a page. Every day you get to decide what you’re going to write on that page, and whatever you write on that page is that page, and that’s it. Once you turn that page, that’s it. So let’s decide how we want to spend our days. You only have so much room to fit on that page, and so in this movie, in Groundhog Day, it hit me the other day, I was like, at the end, it’s being a service to other people that really was how he wanted to spend his time and his days.
Hearing you say that makes me feel like I would pay attention to that aspect more right now, too, because I feel like that’s exactly what our world needs more of at this moment.
Right, well, I think, even people who aren’t spiritual, if you talk to just your regular run-of-the-mill therapist, everybody will encourage people to give back. You give back, give back. Donate at your charity, donate your time, just give back. It just enriches your life in ways that it’s hard to explain, but you just have to do it. You have to have an element in your life where you’re giving back and you’re in service to other people.
I’m a fan of this. Now it makes me want to go back and watch the movie again, so thank you.
Yeah, you’re welcome.
Forrest Gump. That is the longest movie ever, but I will watch it as Forrest is learning how to walk, when his braces fall off of him; when he’s like, going through the swampy puddles of Vietnam; when he’s like, ping-ponging through China. I could watch that movie on Netflix or throw on a DVD, but I’ll end up sitting eight hours, watching it through commercials. I’m sitting there, like, “This is a lot, but I can’t leave. Forrest Gump is on!” “Yeah, you can watch it any time that you want.” “I know, but I’m gonna sit here through these commercials and watch Forrest Gump.” It is like the longest movie ever and becomes the longest movie ever when you sit there through commercials, but I’ll sit there through every stage of Forrest’s life. I will be there.
It kind of feels like it needs no explanation because it’s Forrest Gump. I mean, there are so many stories in one, and it’s just so beautiful. You have a man who lives his life with only love and loyalty, loyalty for the ones he loves, and that’s what drives him. It’s so beautiful to watch how that all unfolds. That part at the end when he goes and he sees Jenny after all that time, back there towards the end, and then he’s this little boy and he’s like, “Is he smart or is he…” She’s like, “No, he’s really smart.” Then he goes and sits down next to him — which is a little, tiny Haley Joel Osment — but then they’re both watching the cartoons, and then they both turn their head and tilt it, and it’s just…
It’s such a beautiful story, because at the end, you know, Jenny’s finally kind of gone through a life and exorcised all of her demons. She goes through this whole thing in her life, where she has this little boy, and only through love and wanting to take care of her child does she get her life together and reach back out to Forrest.
It’s so beautiful at the end. She finally is there, but they don’t get much time together because she’s sick. Then at the end he’s got his little boy with him, and it’s just such a beautiful… It’s such a beautiful movie, and story, and you really feel like you’re with him through all these different stages of his life. The one thing that never changes is his heart. He never gets jaded like the rest of us. The rest of us in the world, we get jaded, we get hardened. Not “we,” but there’s a lot of people who go through the world and feel like they’ve been hurt, they’ve been betrayed, they’ve been beaten down, and so they’re allowed to live life angry, and you just have to give them a big old pass on being upset and angry, but that’s just the story we tell ourselves. S— happens to everybody, and a lot of s— happened to Forrest, but his heart never changed. I think that’s a beautiful story and something we can all take with us.
Bridesmaids. It is hands-down… That’s like the funniest movie that I’ve seen in a very long time. Girls Trip was really funny the other day. I loved that; I saw Girls Trip in my hotel room. Bridesmaids, I remember laughing out loud in the theater, like dying laughing over it. I mean, to watch how all of the actors interact, and the improv, and I love that they interact the way that my girlfriends and I interact. There’s a specific realness to it that I thought was depicted so well and I loved it so much. And I mean, we get to watch Melissa McCarthy in her Academy Award Nominated performance. I mean, she’s genius, she’s brilliant, and Kristen Wiig — all of them, every single actor in that movie is brilliant. I just loved that movie.
Maya Rudolph almost made taking a dump in the middle of the street classy.
Oh, I know! Oh my God, when she did that, I screamed. I was like, “This is the best.” I was howling in the theater. It was the funniest freaking moment. And then she does the thing where she sits down, and she tells the van, like, “Go over. Keep driving.” That moment you know where she’s like, “Ugh.” At that moment, even her shame was s— out of her. She’s like, “I have no more shame. I have nothing. Just keep going. Just move along.”
It’s a newer one, but John Wick or John Wick 2. I’m obsessed. I’m obsessed. I grew up doing martial arts, and I know that Keanu did all of his own fight scenes in it, and then I was working on Predator when I watched John Wick 2, and… I have a gun in Predator, and they were teaching me how to do certain things, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh! Keanu did this really cool thing. Teach me how to do it!” I love… Like, back in the day in kung fu movies, they filmed the fight scenes in wide angles so you get to see everybody doing it, but nowadays, everything’s like cut, cut, edit, edit, close-up of this, close-up of that. But we actually got to see Keanu in these wide shots because he’s doing his own stunts, and he’s kicking ass, and he’s amazing in it.
I just love that, and I feel like we don’t get enough of that in American cinema anymore, or actually ever. You have to go back to, like, old kung fu movies and stuff. I just love watching that movie and the action of that. It’s a good one.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie opens everywhere Friday, September 22.
Remember the 2000s? That philistinic decade where you couldn’t pay money to watch Michael Keaton on the big screen? Well, that was then, this is now, and Keaton’s back with American Assassin, his third theatrical movie of 2017, after The Founder and Spider-Man: Homecoming. In this one, he plays CIA mentor to Dylan O’Brien, teaching him the byzantine way of international espionage and super-secret murdering, which inspires this week’s gallery of 24 Certified Fresh assassin movies from times past. Before the year 2000, even!
(Photo by David Lee/Summit Entertainment)
As a filmmaker, you can destroy entire cities with relative impunity and gleefully obliterate whole civilizations with malicious delight without losing an audience’s sympathy. But movies must tread lightly when animals are involved, because there are few things more likely to enrage audiences than the unnecessary death of an animal, particularly a dog. Dogs are borderline sacred in American society, and our treatment of onscreen mutts reflects that.
Thankfully, the 2014 instant cult classic John Wick, directed by former stuntmen Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, has the most necessary and meaningful death of a cinematic canine since Old Yeller, and one nearly as mourned. The dog is the key to John Wick’s magic. Without it, the movie is merely an extraordinarily well-made, skillfully directed and performed action neo-noir starring Keanu Reeves. That’s not a bad place to start, but the dog’s death elevates John Wick to the level of lurid pop tragedy. It transforms a movie for action-film buffs into a movie for anyone likely to be deeply affected by the death of an adorable dog. That is to say, everyone.
I usually find the revenge genre morally abhorrent and emotionally empty, but when vengeance is exacted on behalf of a four-legged charmer instead of a person, it changes everything. In that case, the very universe itself howls for justice, and in John Wick, the title character is the instrument of its fury.
The film opens with the death (by natural causes) of John Wick’s wife (Bridget Moynahan), a woman good and decent enough to inspire her adoring husband to abandon his life of violence and criminality, even though he is to killing people what Meryl Streep is to acting: the gold standard by which all others are judged. A lesser film would have dragged out the wife’s death, but John Wick deals with her as quickly, smoothly, and efficiently as it does everything else.
(Photo by David Lee/Summit Entertainment)
He’s no mere killer for hire. He’s more like a contemporary folk hero.
Before her light is permanently extinguished, though, she arranges to have a puppy named Daisy shipped to her husband’s home to help him deal with his impending grief. John doesn’t get to spend a whole lot of time with the dog, but he doesn’t need to. Daisy immediately makes an indelible impression and worms her way into the hearts and minds of everyone in the audience. Seldom has a badass action movie been so defined by the adorableness of one of its principals. With the exception of the Death Wish series, of course.
John Wick himself is a familiar action-movie archetype: a man of violence who has figured out a way to leave his past behind and enjoy the simple pleasures of an honest, law-abiding existence. Then one day, Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen), the degenerate son of Russian mob kingpin Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), attempts to buy John’s 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1 from him at a gas station. Wick politely declines the offer, but Iosef is used to having his way, so he and his men follow John home, where they murder his dog and steal his car. This makes John Wick angry. And you wouldn’t like John Wick when he’s angry. Because first he gets angry, and then he starts murdering people. And once he starts, he doesn’t stop until his thirst for vengeance has been sated.
Wick now has something to live for, and more importantly, something to kill for. From that point on, Viggo and John are on a collision course only one of them will survive, if anyone survives at all. In one of the film’s few bits of exposition, Viggo explains that John’s nickname was “The Boogeyman,” but even that undersells his badassery, because, as Viggo clarifies, John Wick is not the boogeyman so much as he’s the one you send to kill the boogeyman. He’s no mere killer for hire. He’s more like a contemporary folk hero.
In Viggo, John Wick boasts a villain worthy of its anti-hero. Nyqvist plays the mob boss as an inveterate philosopher who regards his life and death with a wry sense of world-weary resignation. His respect for Wick borders on awe, and he seems to know, deep down, that it is his existential destiny to be killed by him. He seems resigned to his fate.
But something deeper also seems to be at work. There’s a sense that Viggo wishes John Wick were his son, and he’s come to terms with his death — and the death of his own son — as an appropriate price to pay to the universe for the unforgivable, unpardonable crime of killing Wick’s dog and stealing his car. To put it in Network terms, when snot-nosed Iosef and his boys killed Wick’s dog, they meddled with the primal forces of nature, and Wick quite simply is not having it.
(Photo by David Lee/Summit Entertainment)
The genius of John Wick lies in its tough-guy minimalism.
Derek Kolstad’s crackerjack screenplay is as notable for all of the things that aren’t said as it is for the few things that are. It boldly and brazenly eschews exposition — the elaborate backstories and speeches and arbitrary love interest and all of the other crap that makes action movies so forgettable and interchangeable — so that it can focus monomaniacally on all the things that make action movies awesome.
The film allows John Wick to remain a mystery throughout and surrounds him with characters who are every bit as enigmatic and tantalizingly unknowable as him. We learn, for example, almost nothing about the underworld figures played by the likes of heavyweights Willem Dafoe and Ian McShane, but the way they treat each other says more about them and the dark, ominous, honor-bound world they inhabit than reams of dialogue ever could. Because John Wick leaves so much unsaid, we don’t have any choice but to fill in the blanks.
These weary survivors flesh out the film’s vision of a criminal world that functions as an alternate universe that exists within our own world, complete with an elaborate code of ethics that, like everything else in the film, is never explicitly spelled out. This shadow world has gods and demons and legends of their own, and John Wick qualifies as all three. He’s a righteous angel of vengeance.
The genius of John Wick — and I do not use that word lightly — lies in its tough-guy minimalism, in the way it strips the revenge melodrama down to its raw, potent core. That minimalism extends to the dialogue. The more Keanu Reeves says here, the less badass he seems. Thankfully he says almost nothing, so when he does speak it’s more forceful. Likewise, we don’t need to hear about what a force of nature John Wick is because it’s apparent in every punch, every kick, and every bad guy murdered; the film is admirably committed to showing rather than telling.
Just about the only time John Wick says more than is absolutely necessary is when he’s captured by Viggo and explains the urgency and necessity of his particular path. He describes what Daisy meant to him, how she gave him his first taste of hope in ages, only to have that hope extinguished by a bullet. In John Wick, the criminal world is no place for tourists: either you’re in the life 100 percent or you’re out completely.
John murders a small nation’s worth of glowering Russians over the course of the movie, so he’s not exactly tip-toeing shyly back into his old ways. Yet it isn’t until John is captured by Viggo and roped to a chair, when he tells him and his armed thugs, “People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer. But now, yeah, I’M THINKING I’M BACK!” that his bloody comeback becomes official.
(Photo by David Lee/Summit Entertainment)
There’s a Zen calm to John Wick that comes as much from the actor as the script.
Reeves delivers those instantly iconic lines with ragged breath and visceral, overpowering rage. Like Philip Seymour Hoffman in Mission Impossible 3, he’s a deadly threat to everyone around him even when bound and captured by his enemies.
But there’s a Zen calm to John Wick that comes as much from the actor as the script. Reeves possesses a sweetness and vulnerability that, in the past, has worked against his efforts to come across as tough and imposing. But that likability, as well as his androgynous good looks, makes it easy to buy the title character as a man who will never recover from the personal losses he’s suffered, no matter how many Russians he murders. Just as importantly, at this stage in his career, Reeves has the presence and physical chops to pull off playing this virtuoso of bloodshed, this Mozart of righteous mass murder. Style-wise, John Wick is a marvel of clean, unadorned efficiency. The film’s alternately black-grey and lurid neon color scheme and visceral brutality suggest Only God Forgives if Nicolas Winding-Refn’s film was intent on entertaining audiences rather than repulsing them.
The world of John Wick is full of mystery and empty spaces, so while the film is perfect in its own right, its universe begs to be expanded with sequels and a TV spin-off and graphic novels and comic books and novelizations. Accordingly, the sequel did even better with critics and audiences than the original film, and it seems like there’s an awful lot that can still be done with the character, as evidenced by plans for a John Wick TV series.
But why stop there? If any blood-splattered action movie franchise invited an officially licensed line of dog toys and bulletproof puppy vests, it’s this one. Hell, if Billy Jack got four movies, then John Wick deserves at least eight.
John Wick transformed Keanu Reeves (who had a little bit of success in action via the popular Matrix films) from a wannabe badass to the real thing. John Wick is the hero we need, and a hero for our times, even if we have done little, if anything, to deserve him.
Original Certification: Fresh
Tomatometer: 85 percent
Nathan Rabin is a freelance writer, columnist, the first head writer of The A.V. Club and the author of four books, most recently Weird Al: The Book (with “Weird Al” Yankovic) and You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me.
Follow Nathan on Twitter: @NathanRabin
Enough with the space jockeys, unqualified cartographers, and people who run in straight lines: How about terrorizing someone who can put up a real fight? Vote on our 10 suggestions below or leave your dream Alien deathmatch in the comments!
This week’s Ketchup covers seven days of film development, which this week included the first three days of the Cannes Film Festival, which every year is the source for many such movie news stories. Included in the mix this week are stories about such movies as The New Mutants, Underworld 5, a remake of The Craft, a new Fugitive, and new roles for Tom Hanks, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, and Charlize Theron.
This story’s headline was a tricky one to compose, because really, we wanted to sell it as if Charlize Theron really needs anyone’s help to become an action movie star. This is, however, also the day that Mad Max: Fury Road, is opening with a Certified Fresh 99% Tomatometer rating, with much praise indeed going directly to Ms. Theron herself. Of course, Keanu Reeves had been in several pretty good action movies too, and yet, John Wick was still celebrated as his “return.” Anyway, yes, Charlize Theron and co-directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski will be teaming up for their follow-up to John Wick, which will be called The Coldest City. Charlize Theron will be playing a super spy who has an adventure following the assassination of an underground British agent just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Filming is scheduled to start in October in Germany. Leitch and Stahelski are expected to follow The Coldest City with both John Wick 2 and the comic book adaptation Bloodshot.
It’s been known for a while that 20th Century Fox has had plans for spinoffs of their successful X-Men franchise, including solo movies for Deadpool (2/12/16) and Gambit (10/7/16), and talk of an X-Force team movie. This week, the news broke that one of the potentially most promising spinoffs will indeed be the long-rumored title The New Mutants, which 20th Century Fox has hired director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) to co-write and direct. In a few ways, The New Mutants might be the most appropriate property 20th Century Fox could have chosen, as like the planned movie, it was itself Marvel’s first (of many that followed) X-Team spinoff series when it launched in 1982. With The New Mutants, the focus was less on students that moonlighted as superheroes, and more on characters who really were students first and foremost but whose mutant natures also frequently forced them into having adventures, teen romances, and journeys of self-discovery. For the most part, the core team of The New Mutants has not really been featured in Fox’s movies previously, which may have been a clue all along that the studio was planning on someday making the movie. Of course, the question that still lingers is exactly what relationship The New Mutants will have to Fox’s plans for an X-Force movie, since in the comics, the original X-Force team actually grew out of The New Mutants (which suggests that the X-Force movie might indeed be a sequel to The New Mutants).
Normally, you would think that this particular story would have been picked up by the nerdosphere and become one of the most popular stories in your Facebook feed, but for whatever reason, it sort of fell through the cracks. Well, that’s why the world has the Weekly Ketchup: to pick up those little overlooked stories, dust them off, and let them fly away again into the collective ether. The movie we’re talking about is Colossal, which will feature Anne Hathaway as a woman who moves back home after losing her job and fiance in New York City, only to find that as “a giant lizard is destroying the city of Tokyo, Gloria gradually comes to realize that she is strangely connected to these far-off events via the power of her mind.” Colossal will be directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) from his own script, and is being compared (for obvious reasons) to such movies as Godzilla, Adaptation, and Being John Malkovich. It’s not yet known if the Kaiju monster in Colossal will be realized using computer animation or a more classic “man-in-rubber-suit” technology.
One of this young year’s best reviewed genre movies has been Ex Machina (Certified Fresh 91%), and this week, the film’s star landed another lead role. Alicia Vikander will star in The Circle, along with Tom Hanks, as a “a recent college graduate who gets a job at a powerful tech company called The Circle. While there, she strikes up a relationship with the company’s charismatic co-founder.” The Circle is an adaptation of the 2013 novel by Dave Eggers (Away We Go). Tom Hanks also starred in the adaptation of Eggers’ book A Hologram for the King, which Lionsgate acquired the rights to this week at Cannes. The Circle will be directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now), whose next film The End of the Tour premiered at Sundance this year, and is scheduled for release on July 31, 2015.
Following a bidding war with other production companies, DreamWorks has won the rights to a science fiction comedy pitch called Alpha Squad Seven. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is attached to co-produce and star (along with another lead) in the secretive comedy, which is reportedly set in space, drawing comparisons to Armageddon, Independence Day, and Guardians of the Galaxy (because publicists never use unsuccessful movies as examples of what their movie’s like). Alpha Squad Seven was pitched by the screenwriting team of Jeremiah Friedman and Nick Palmer, who don’t yet have a produced film to their credit, but have worked in the past on the sequel to the remake of The Karate Kid (the one that was actually about kung fu).
If you grew up in the 1980s, you’ve probably gotten used to Hollywood remaking some of your favorite movies since, well, the late 1990s or so. This is apparently something that surprises and/or shocks younger fans who grew up in the 1990s, though, as the Twitterverse demonstrated this week when Sony Pictures announced it had begun development on a remake of The Craft. Director Leigh Janiak, who made her feature film debut last year with the horror film Honeymoon (70% Fresh), has been hired to direct from a script that she will cowrite with her Honeymoon cowriter Phil Graziadei. We’re calling this news a borderline Rotten Idea, not specifically because of anything directly related to the Tomatometer, but because maybe the Twitterverse does have a point. The Craft is still out there, waiting to be enjoyed by generations to come (just like most movies that get remade by Hollywood).
Here at the Weekly Ketchup, we are big fans of tropes (well, really I’m one guy, but “we” sounds better), like one known as the Sequel Gap. A sequel gap occurs when a sequel is finally produced and released after a longer than average period of time. The three years each between Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron and Taken 2 and 3 were sort of optimal, but the 11 years in between the two SpongeBob SquarePants movies? That was quite a Sequel Gap. When Shanghai Noon (79% Fresh) and its sequel Shanghai Knights (66% Fresh) were released in 2000 and 2003, they were received positively for what they were: lighthearted action-comedy romps that mixed the Wild West and kung fu. But that was over 12 years ago, and Jackie Chan is 61 years old now. Regardless, MGM has announced plans to finally move ahead with a third movie in the franchise, to be called Shanghai Dawn. No other details are available yet, except that MGM is seeking a screenwriter, and hopes to release Shanghai Dawn sometime in 2017.
Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara, who will be costarring together later this year as Blackbeard and Tiger Lily in Pan, are now signed to costar in another movie. Hugh Jackman will star in Collateral Beauty as an advertising agent who experiences a tragedy that sends him into a state of depression. Collateral Beauty will be directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) from an original screenplay by screenwriter Allan Loeb. Although Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a critical hit at Sundance this year, we’re calling this one a “Rotten Idea” based on screenwriter Allan Loeb’s streak of “Rotten” Tomatometer ratings, which is currently eight in a row, including recent misfires like Rock of Ages, Here Comes the Boom, and 2012’s So Undercover, starring Miley Cyrus.
Although she did skip the third movie (for the obvious reason that Underworld: Rise of the Lycans was a prequel), Kate Beckinsale did reprise her role as Selene in the fourth movie in the Underworld franchise, 2012’s Underworld: Awakening. And this week, we learned that Screen Gems and Sony Pictures are moving forward with plans for a fifth Underworld movie with Beckinsale returning once again. Theo James, who also starred in Underworld: Awakening will also reprise his character in this fifth movie. This fifth installment will mark the feature film directorial debut of Anna Foerster, who has worn a few different hats on other movies, including working as Roland Emmerich’s cinematographer on Anonymous and White House Down. We should note that this being a “Rotten Idea” really has nothing to do with Kate Beckinsale herself. No, this is one of the week’s Rotten Ideas because none of the previous Underworld movies ever scored higher than 31% on the Tomatometer.
A growing trend within Hollywood’s film development movers and shakers is the regurgitation and/or revisitation of Harrison Ford’s earlier film career. Ford himself will revisit his roles for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Blade Runner 2 (presumably Deckard is who Ford’s playing, at least), and there’s recently been talk about Chris Pratt taking over the Indiana Jones franchise. We can now add The Fugitive (which was itself an adaptation of a popular 1960s TV series) to the mix, as Warner Bros has put a new Fugitive movie into development. There’s still a lot that we don’t know, however, such as whether the new movie will be a remake or a sequel. Whatever it is, Warner Bros has hired not-yet-produced screenwriter Christina Hodson to work on the screenplay. Although the 1993 movie starring Harrison Ford is Certified Fresh at 93%, the 1997 attempt to spinoff the franchise focusing on Tommy Lee Jones’ character, U.S. Marshals, is decidedly not, with a Rotten score of just 27%.